Nikki Hudson and Stephen Lambert share hints with some young Lismore hockey hopefulls.
Nikki Hudson and Stephen Lambert share hints with some young Lismore hockey hopefulls. The Northern Star

Olympic hockey players coach Lismore kids

HOW to take a ball to the neck at 120km/h was one of the unenviable skills Kookaburras hockey goalkeeper Stephen Lambert shared while in Lismore yesterday.

In town with Hockeyroos captain Nikki Hudson to teach 45 juniors the basic skills that took them to the Beijing Olympic Games, Lambert revealed there were a couple of vulnerable spots beneath his protective kit.

"Some of the guys are flicking it at 120km/h so there is definitely an element of danger for the guys without padding," he said.

"I've been hit in the neck a couple of times and the inside of the thighs hurt too."

When defending a penalty corner, Lambert stands in the goal, stares down the shooter and willingly throws his body in front of a hard ball moving ridiculously fast.

He said that in the moments before the shot, there was no time for fear.

It begs the question: Is he crazy?

"No. It's a pressure position and at the end of the game your performance can determine the outcome," he said.

"I find it a challenge, although I have copped my fair share of bruises.

"I've been playing in goal since I was eight.

"I rocked up for a grand final and the regular keeper didn't turn up so they put me in."

Which is the source of one of his messages for the kids: "You never know unless you give it a go."

While Hudson was still a little sore from a hamstring operation three weeks ago, she said coaching country kids was a big source of enjoyment for her.

"I never get sick of this," she said.

"I can remember as a kid looking up to famous hockey players, so it's something I'll never take for granted."

Hudson, the most capped Australian representative, also dismissed rumours that she was about to retire.

"I've never considered retiring," she said.

"I was always going to play on after Beijing regardless of the result.

"I've always felt like I have a lot of hockey left in me. I'm going to stay and play on to London. If I can stay fit and keep playing well then age is no barrier."

Local hockey expert Jim Challenor said Hudson and Lambert's presence at Hepburn Park had a big impact on the local kids.

"You can't get better motivation than having two of the best international players in your home town," Challenor said.

"It shows kids you can come from a country area and make it to the highest level."


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